Posts Tagged ‘brambles’

Way to go

January 1, 2016 1 comment
Path towards the wood

Path towards the wood

The photo shows a narrow path threading its way uphill.

It proceeds along the edge of a wooded precipice towards a coppice which in spring is carpeted with primroses and violets.

Every now and again I cut back the broom and brambles to clear the way through.

I’m not sure who benefits apart from me – crack-of-dawn mushroom pickers perhaps, or boar hunters if they go that way.

Once it was used by solitary, stealthy hunters who built hides and shot songbirds supposedly to impart flavour to their pigeon stew, but I hope we’ve seen the last of them near the house at least.

The path itself is a symbol for how we’re viewing this new year: a steep trudge, arduous, often devoid of waymarks or disappearing altogether, but with a clear goal at its summit. It’s a trail, also, which improves from being cleared of brambles.


Tantalus experience

October 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Tantalus was tortured by having fruit that forever eluded his grasp. This was rather my experience with the apple tree in the photo.

Apple tree with brambles and wild clematis

I took a tarpaulin there today to lay over the brambles in front of the tree and protect myself from the prickles. It worked reasonably well, but what I hadn’t realised was that the tree grows on the edge of a steep bank  masked by those brambles.

As I edged forward, it was as if the tree receded in front of me. I only managed to pick 5 apples before I had to reconsider my approach.

The bank drops into a deep, damp hollow surrounded by brambles and wild clematis but otherwise relatively clear.

What I did was knock the apples I could reach with my stick down into the hollow, then slither down there and pick them up.

When I got back to the house I tried one. They’re hard, juicy and full of flavour – really good apples. It’s such a shame that all these old trees have gone to rack and ruin with canker and invading weeds.

Magic apples

October 9, 2012 2 comments

Inaccessible apples

These branches belong to one of the two trees I call the Magic Apple Trees.

When we first viewed the house before buying it, they were bearing golden apples in the middle of a sea of greenery and they made a deep impression on me.

Unfortunately part of the magic is that the apples are almost completely inaccessible. The trees grow on the edge of raised ground and most of the fruit is on branches over the void.

Yesterday, poking up as far as I could, I managed to reach a cluster of 3 apples with my ‘fruit hook’, a curve of very stiff wire on the end of a bamboo pole.

The first apple landed against brambles half way down the slope and Joules went for it. (Not to fetch it, but to eat it himself; luckily he obeys me when I shout at him to stop.)

The second sliced itself partly open on a rock and skipped a great distance into a clump of grass.

The third rolled until it hit a tree trunk and was seized by Kepler.

Kepler knew, as he always does, that he had a great prize so there was no way I was going to get it. I found it later on the gravel in front of the house.

These are delicious apples and the wild boars polish them off if they fall on their own. I could wish, though, that the challenge were not quite so great in order to obtain the riches …


June 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Cleared ground under the walnut trees

I’ve been fighting a losing battle against brambles, wild clematis, goosegrass and thistles so I thought it was time to call in reinforcements.

Yesterday I phoned the eldest of 3 Tunisian brothers who have helped us in the past, and he started today.

In just one morning, he’s made the world of difference.

He’s able to balance on the steep and lumpy slopes with the strimmer, taking its weight with his arms, which gives him a real advantage.

He told me about his brothers, who haven’t been as fortunate as he. Unable to find full-time work, they were forced to return to Tunisia. He’s over here on his own – even his wife is in Tunisia.

When we were discussing whether to thin out the rather crowded row of walnut trees (and I’m happy to say he agree with me not to) I remarked that walnuts are supposedly soporiphic and therefore make a good snack last thing at night.

“I eat lots of walnuts,” he told me. “But when you’re as tired as me at the end of the day, you don’t notice if they send you to sleep or not.”

Why do I feel persecuted?

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

A rainbow, or weather that can’t make up its mind

I don’t know what it is about me and the use of any kind of spray in the garden. As soon as I apply something that needs a given number of hours to dry and be effective, I can be absolutely sure that it will rain well within that timeframe, even when there was no rain forecast.

Today is a good example. I’ve been meaning for weeks to apply some weedkiller to a fast-growing patch of brambles which is threatening to invade my old vegetable patch, and today I finally did it. Good job done, I thought. It should at least slow it down a bit.

Two and a half hours later, when the minimum stated drying time for the product is six hours, it rained. It hasn’t rained for days prior to this!

It didn’t even have the good grace to to rain properly. It delivered a sharp shower – just enough to wash off all my weedkiller – and then stopped.

The same thing happens when I spray the orchard with insecticide and pesticide.

Could it be that in the high-up location where we live the weather is somehow sensing my intentions?

Some people would say it serves me right for using these products, but I say: you’re extremely welcome to come and tackle these brambles by hand!